Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

1993

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Frederick X. Gibbons

Second Advisor

Meg Gerrard

Abstract

The present experiment sought to determine whether principles derived from theory and research in social comparison could predict young adults' reactions to considering their risk for sexually-transmitted diseases. Results suggest that people who consider factors that increase their chances of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases feel more vulnerable to these diseases than do people who don't. These feelings of vulnerability may motivate subsequent defensive reactions, especially among persons with high self-esteem;Persons with high but not low self-esteem who considered their risk for sexually-transmitted diseases provided more favorable ratings of themselves on the dimension of pregnancy prevention and on a general personality index than did persons who did not consider their risk. Self-enhancement on personality ratings was associated with greater perceptions of unique invulnerability to sexually-transmitted diseases;Persons with high self-esteem who considered their risk also selected significantly riskier targets with whom to socially compare than did those who did not consider their risk. When persons with high self-esteem who considered their risk were exposed to information about a sexually risky peer, they provided higher estimates of the typical peer's vulnerability to sexually-transmitted diseases than did persons with high self-esteem who considered their risk but who were not exposed to such information. This increase in the perception of peers' vulnerability facilitated a larger perception of unique invulnerability to sexually-transmitted diseases;Finally, persons who considered their risk-increasing behaviors perceived sexually-transmitted diseases to be less unpleasant than did persons with high self-esteem who were not asked to consider their risk;Persons with low self-esteem did not show significant self-enhancement, distancing, alteration in target choice, or differences in perceptions of vulnerability or unpleasantness as a function of risk consideration or exposure to a risky peer target.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31274/rtd-180813-9596

Publisher

Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/

Copyright Owner

Allison Sue Boney-McCoy

Language

en

Proquest ID

AAI9334963

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

292 pages

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